You have worked on having a focused resume and a great cover letter; you’ve networked on LinkedIn and at events; you’ve applied for several positions, made connections, and you got yourself an interview! And now what? Knowing how to prepare for an interview can put you ahead of the competition.
Understand the Position Description
For seasoned professionals and recent grads:
- Carefully analyze the position description to determine what are the key factors that will make a candidate a perfect match for the particular position based on job responsibilities and requirements.
- Ask yourself if you have the exact experience required to perform all the responsibilities of that position. If not, prepare to make your case and demonstrate that you can be effective at the position. Show how your previous experiences will help you accomplish great results.
- Be prepared to answer how you could bring something extra to the department/organization that is unique.
For internship seekers:
- Try to match your your strengths and personal characteristics to position requirements, drawing a clear line between your capabilities and the scope of the work.
- Is this your first internship? Try to think of ways your academic experience has thought you something or given you the opportunity to develop a skill: Teamwork skills? Communication skills? Ability to negotiate deadlines with a professor? Prepare to give examples.
Make a great first impression
- Show up on time! It seems pretty basic, but so many people are late for interviews. It gives employers the impression that either you don’t care enough about getting the position or that you are not a responsible professional. To avoid last minute issues, make a trip to the company prior to the interview date and plan on arriving 20 minutes early.
- Dress appropriately – if you are in doubt you can almost always choose the most conservative and formal option. Unless you are in an informal field and having learned about the organizational culture, you found that everyone wears flip-flops and shorts to work. In that case, skip the suit and tie, but make sure to look well dressed.
- Smile and be pleasant. A positive attitude can be contagious and will certainly give everyone one around you the impression that you may be someone great to work with.
- Bring samples of your work and extra resumes, just in case.
Learn About the Organization
How long have they been in business? What’s their mission? What are similarities between you and the company culture? Is there something that makes you a perfect match for the job or internship? Knowing details about the company you are trying to get into, will not only help you answer questions but, also show your interest in being part of the company, not only in getting a job.
In front of a mirror, with your roommate, or in the shower. Create a list of common interview questions and practice answering them out loud.
The better prepared you are, the easier it is to stay calm during an interview. If you know how to prepare for an interview, your chances of success are much higher. Good luck!
Watch this video to learn more about how to prepare for an interview.